Flat Bench vs. Incline Bench

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  1. Quote Originally Posted by Flaw View Post
    You missed my point. I wasn't saying stick to one exercise all the time, I was saying stick to what works for you. This could be a variation of flats, or a variation of inclines. Wherever you personally see the best results don't force yourself at angles in which it hinders your gains.

    Just as a side note though, you can maintain flat bench as a core exercise and see gains constantly if you do it right by changing tempo,rest periods, reps, sets and intensity. You can even change your other exercises constantly around your flat bench. There is no set rule. I've gone 8 months on dumbell presses without a plateu. The only reason I had to quit was because the weight became too much for my shoulders and my joints gave out.
    definetely agree man..

    people (like p90x) try to sell that "muscle confusion" jargon, when i think it is only effective to an extent.

    The last thing you wanna do is "confuse" your muscles.. this is why powerlifters keep excelling in their lifts is because they do squats to squat heavier, bench to bench heavier and so on..

    you can flat bench or db press year round and still make gains if you incorporate good ancillary exercises and eat adequately
    Suffer now.. and live like a champion later.


  2. h t t p://w ww.bodybuilding.com/fun/video-anatomy-of-the-chest.htm . Just saying how reverse-grip flat bench is alot better than incline presses. Just something I read so nobody jump me for saying this. Though I have to say when i tried them i felt it alot better.

    Incline-320
    Flat-382
    Decline-416
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  3. Quote Originally Posted by Basso View Post
    Incline utilizes a lot of shoulders while the flat uses alot of back, if you lats are weak and you have strong shoulders it's possible to have a stronger incline, but your flat should be stronger. Like Enigma said, proper technique will make a huge difference, on the incline it's not as easy to get the whole body involved, it's a lot more isolatory.
    I agree with your principle. Most of the guys I've seen with the big round delts tended to start chest day with incline. I try to work on shoulders a lot and and about even between incline and flat.

  4. Both movements can serve effective...

    Flat benches are an absolutely must in a routine, while inclines are an accessory, so not everyone needs them. I've had clients I told not to do incline, while I had clients that I had doing inclines twice per week. It just depends on the person and their genetic response.

    As far as which one works out the chest better, well inclines would work the clavicular head of the pec better, obviously; while bench presses would work the sternal head better. Inclines can be a chest/shoulder hybrid and nothing more than more stress put onto already imbalanced shoulders in most peoples case.

    Incline presses are a push force exercise though, so you'd need to incorporate a pull to balance it - face pulls.
    Former Marine, UT-BSN, NSCA-CPT, NASM-CPT, CSCS

  5. I think the angle of the bench makes a HUGE difference as to whether you're really working your upper pecs or just transferring the weight to the anterior deltoids. I have found that most incline benches are set at MUCH too steep an angle. When I use them, I tend to feel it in my shoulders quite a bit. That's why I prefer to use the adjustable benches and select an angle somewhere between flat and regular incline. This means I can only use dumbbells, but it seems to hit the upper pecs much better than either flat bench or regular fixed incline benches. I saw a video on Youtube of Dorian Yates saying much the same thing.

    Of course, I agree with what has been written above in that results will vary from person to person.
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  6. It depends on what your goin for. If your into powerlifting then, your flat bench should be higher. If your more toward bodybuilding and size and proportion, then you shouldnt even do flat barbell, in my opinion. Flat barbell bench is one of the least productive chest excercises there is, and the most dangerous. Incline is far superior. Im personally more into dumbells. Your chest works the most when your hands go out at the bottom and comes together at the top. By the way, its the same for lat growth, but thats a different story.

  7. "Getting back to our question, the pectoralis major is one muscle with two heads, clavicular and sternocostal, that cover the chest and insert on the upper arm bone (humerus). The clavicular head originates at the center portion of the collar bone (clavical), and in lay language this area is referred to as the upper pecs. One of its primary functions is to raise the arm. The sternocostal head originates at the costal cartilage of the first six ribs and the adjoining section of the breast bone (sternum), and is called the lower pecs. One of its primary functions is to lower the arm.

    One method of determining how muscles are activated during an exercise is called electromyography (EMG), a diagnostic tool........

    In researching the answer for this question, I found one paper using EMGs that compared muscle activation between the incline bench press and the decline bench press. The authors concluded that the lower portion of the pectorals was more active during decline presses than during incline presses, but that neither exercise completely isolated these muscles. From this data you can conclude that exercises which position the hands farther from the center of gravity will more strongly work the upper pecs (e.g., incline bench presses), and exercises that position the hands closer to the center of gravity (e.g., bench presses) work the lower pecs. However, this study did not look at the flat bench press, a consideration that turns out to have significant ramifications in exercise selection.

    I say this because I then found another study that did EMG measurements of the incline, flat, and decline presses. It found that the maximum recruitment of the upper pecs was with an incline press, and the maximum recruitment of the lower pecs was with a flat, not decline, press. The study also looked at hand spacing, and what’s interesting is that it found that a wider grip did not significantly increase the involvement of the lower pecs in flat bench presses. With this information, I could now confidently answer this pec training question by saying that incline presses would be best for the upper pecs, and flat bench presses would be best for the lower pecs. But there’s more.

    I found another EMG study that examined the differences between muscle activation during the barbell bench press, the dumbbell bench press and the dumbbell fly. What the researchers found was that the dumbbell fly had less muscle activation time than either the barbell bench presses or the dumbbell bench presses. With this information, I could expand my answer by saying that the dumbbell fly is an inferior exercise for developing the lower pecs.

    The next step was to search for research that looks at various hand positions, and I found a study that looked at the differences in hand position using a special bar called a Football Bar. What this two-month study found was that of three grips tested, the thumbs-out grip produced the greatest increases in strength (a 12.3 percent average improvement compared to a 6.2 percent improvement in the conventional bench press). Again, this gave me more practical information to use in program design, and also in terms of exercise equipment purchases (which is why both my gym and the PICP Chicago are equipped with Football Bars)." - Charles Polquin

  8. Theres a thread going on at PM right now saying how declines recruit most of the pec muscles, and builds a fuller chest.

    IDK, I guess we better do all 3 LOL!!
    True story:

    I give a f**K!!

  9. i usually hit flat for about 3 months then move to incline for 3. never added decline in it yet but after my incline term ill try it.

  10. Quote Originally Posted by Jake Fires View Post
    i usually hit flat for about 3 months then move to incline for 3. never added decline in it yet but after my incline term ill try it.
    how is your strength when you come back to your flat bench "term"? i would think not performing an exercise for 3 or more months would cause those muscles to atrophy and that movement to become weak
    Suffer now.. and live like a champion later.

  11. I'm sure you might be a little weaker in the flat bench, if you haven't performed it in awhile, but I don't know about atrophying muscle. No matter what angle the bench is, the pec as a whole is still being worked. Just a little more emphasis is placed on a particular area.

  12. After YEARS&YEARS,stacked upon YEARS of INCLINING,it has been declared on this 5th day of FEB. 2010,the tried and true exercise is useless

    As a matter of fact....My local programming was just interrupted to bring me this earth shattering news[/QUOTE]

    The way I look at this discussion is this. While incline is a valuable chest exercise, I do not feel it builds your chest better than flat BB in ANY way shape or form for a few simple reasons.
    1) A exercise where you can use more weight is going to create a larger muscle.
    2) Flat BB is tried and true. After ONLY flat benching for the past 6 months straight, my incline was stronger so explain that one.
    3) Incline is harder on your rotator cuffs than Flat BB (unless your a noob and you don't bench right).

    Overall I don't care what an EMG says, it can show it all it wants about muscle activation. I care about what works. Go look at some powerlifters who can bench 600 lbs..that NEVER do Incline or Decline..Their upper pec is bigger than yours I bet.

  13. In my experience the best thing for increasing chest size has been GVT (10x10), flat bench super-set with either squats (I prefer) or weighted pullups.

    Strength 5x5 flat bench with some negatives thrown in 2 times a month since I train chest 2x a week.

  14. Quote Originally Posted by lonewolf0420 View Post
    I'm sure you might be a little weaker in the flat bench, if you haven't performed it in awhile, but I don't know about atrophying muscle. No matter what angle the bench is, the pec as a whole is still being worked. Just a little more emphasis is placed on a particular area.
    Youre right, the way i said it made it sound like you wont have half your pecs after 3 months, my bad. But yea with less emphasis and stimulation of the sternal fibers, they will weaken and probably atrophy to an extent. Thats probably the worst case scenario- if the person is performing other exercises that activate those fibers they may be able to maintain, but im sure 3 months without a movement will elicit a strength discrepency which is indicitive of contractile tissue loss.
    Suffer now.. and live like a champion later.

  15. Quote Originally Posted by BigKrabbe View Post
    The way I look at this discussion is this. While incline is a valuable chest exercise, I do not feel it builds your chest better than flat BB in ANY way shape or form for a few simple reasons.
    1) A exercise where you can use more weight is going to create a larger muscle.
    2) Flat BB is tried and true. After ONLY flat benching for the past 6 months straight, my incline was stronger so explain that one.
    3) Incline is harder on your rotator cuffs than Flat BB (unless your a noob and you don't bench right).

    Overall I don't care what an EMG says, it can show it all it wants about muscle activation. I care about what works. Go look at some powerlifters who can bench 600 lbs..that NEVER do Incline or Decline..Their upper pec is bigger than yours I bet.
    I disagree..
    How do you explain Dorian Yates chest build after years of only utilizing incline?

    I actually use more weight on inclines- individuals vary.

    Can you post a study on why incline is "harder on rotator cuffs" ? I'd like to see one.

    EMG is a proven objective measurement. How can you disagree with that?
    Suffer now.. and live like a champion later.

  16. First off I would just like to say that I believe the incline press does have its place in most training programs.....
    But, most people dont use correct form and put themselves at risk of shoulder impingement (especially by bringing the bar down too low). Also the fact that most incline bench setups are at too high of an angle.

    "The following exercises are often considered “contraindicated” for
    people with swollen and irritated shoulders:
    · Shoulder (overhead) presses
    · Dumbbell side raises with thumbs pointing down
    · Upright rows above shoulder height
    · Incline bench press
    · Lateral pull-downs behind the neck
    Some preventative shoulder exercise modifications may include:
    · Shoulder press: Keep bar/dumbbells slightly in front of shoulders and above ear level.
    · Bench press: Keep bar a few inches above chest when lowering and keep arms close to the
    body.
    · Pectoral Chest Fly Machine: Keep arms slightly in front of the shoulder and body when
    lowering the weights. Do not try to stretch your arms below your torso level.
    · Lateral pull-down: Pull bar down in front of head and use an underhand grip."
    acsm.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home_Page &CONTENTID=11050&TEMPLATE=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&SECTION=Upd ated_layout

    A good article here as well
    ccptr.org/articles/weight-lifting-modifications-for-shoulder-tendonitis-impingement-syndrome/

    Like you said individuals do vary, so if it works for you and your pain-free, why change up something that works

  17. Quote Originally Posted by blackcj7 View Post

    Like you said individuals do vary, so if it works for you and your pain-free, why change up something that works
    yea brah i cant even attempt declines or anything less than horizontal without AC joint pain.. Im bias toward inclines
    Suffer now.. and live like a champion later.

  18. Quote Originally Posted by bezoe View Post
    I disagree..
    How do you explain Dorian Yates chest build after years of only utilizing incline?

    I actually use more weight on inclines- individuals vary.

    Can you post a study on why incline is "harder on rotator cuffs" ? I'd like to see one.

    EMG is a proven objective measurement. How can you disagree with that?

    1) Dorian Yates by NO means only did incline presses.

    2) It's as simple as range of motion, greater range of motion at an incline where your shoulders go back further than needed is going to cause unnecessary strain on a rotator cuff. It's also harder to keep a proper benching form on an incline bench.

    3) EMG's I believe also say Decline bench recruits the most muscle fibers of any chest exercise, how's that work if it's the shortest range of motion?

    4) I recently repped 225x5 with pauses at the bottom of each rep after doing nothing but flat bench for a whileee. Also think about the basic mechanics of what your pec muscles are used for. Pushing something away from your body, the bench press is a much more natural movement than an incline press.

    5) I have my BS in Kinesiology, according to several scientific studies steroids don't cause muscle gains. I would believe an EMG study if I did it myself, but in the end I go by what WORKS. Not bashing your opinions in any way shape or form, just saying what I think...science isn't always right. Different things work for different people but I say FLAT BENCH IS KING. Incline bench is prince at best.

  19. im sorry it was declines he preferred.. regardless, he says flat bench is a s****y exercise and he doesnt do them. Im sure everybody's seen this:


    With all due respect im a physical therapist assistant student. With your education you should know that declines (adduction and extension of the glenohumeral joint) recruits the most pectoral muscle fibers and ROM- even though im an advocate of inclines im just stating this.

    The steroids studies couldnt have been double blind, placebo based, randomized, refereed, etc. etc. Im sure i could find an error in their procedure. youre right though all studies arent reliable.

    IM not bashing you either bro, everbody's different. Incline DB's have suited me well for over a year now- no flat presses and no barbell whatsoever.
    Suffer now.. and live like a champion later.

  20. Quote Originally Posted by bezoe View Post
    im sorry it was declines he preferred.. regardless, he says flat bench is a s****y exercise and he doesnt do them. Im sure everybody's seen this:


    With all due respect im a physical therapist assistant student. With your education you should know that declines (adduction and extension of the glenohumeral joint) recruits the most pectoral muscle fibers and ROM- even though im an advocate of inclines im just stating this.

    The steroids studies couldnt have been double blind, placebo based, randomized, refereed, etc. etc. Im sure i could find an error in their procedure. youre right though all studies arent reliable.

    IM not bashing you either bro, everbody's different. Incline DB's have suited me well for over a year now- no flat presses and no barbell whatsoever.
    Incline DB's is an excellent exercise, I did it for about 6 months straight a few years ago when I hurt my shoulder. Yes the studies on steroids are definitely not right, and I'm sure not done correctly - I'll try to locate them it's been a few years since I saw them. I was saying emg does show decline producing the most pectoral muscle fiber recruitment, but imo does not cause the largest muscular gains. Personally I can't do decline bb or incline bb - both bother my shoulders. However I can do incline db's or decline db's but flat db's bother me..weird huh?

  21. Quote Originally Posted by BigKrabbe View Post
    Incline DB's is an excellent exercise, I did it for about 6 months straight a few years ago when I hurt my shoulder. Yes the studies on steroids are definitely not right, and I'm sure not done correctly - I'll try to locate them it's been a few years since I saw them. I was saying emg does show decline producing the most pectoral muscle fiber recruitment, but imo does not cause the largest muscular gains. Personally I can't do decline bb or incline bb - both bother my shoulders. However I can do incline db's or decline db's but flat db's bother me..weird huh?
    Yea it would be hard to quantify a study on decline vs. flat for muscle hypertrophy.. too many variables. Some guys i know swear by them..

    That is weird.. i think a lot has to do with the restriction of the shoulder complex when using the barbell. The hands stay at a fixed distance, which i feel is just not a natural/optimal kinesthetic motion. As far as not being able to do flat db's, you got me. Probably a variation of structural factors that are specific to you. Ive learned that it always depends
    Suffer now.. and live like a champion later.

  22. Arnold loves incline dumbells

  23. Do what your body is designed to do....if pushing straight out feels better-er than pushing downward a bit, then do flat instead of decline. If pushing upwards is best, do inclines.

    Dips and decline *should* feel the most natural as far as using your chest to push your arms out straight.
    True story:

    I give a f**K!!

  24. Quote Originally Posted by noviceiron View Post
    Which should be stronger?

    I have been told that your flat bench should be stronger than your incline, but I am the other way around.

    Which would generate more size?
    Well it would be wierd for your incline bench to be stronger than your flat. Whoever told you that is pretty stupid.

    In terms of generating more size, that depends on a persons genetics and the exercises are completely different.

    As flat bench focuses more on your lower pecs and triceps, incline would hit more upper chest with shoulders AND triceps.

    So in terms of all around mass, id day incline bench. But for chest mass, thats a persons genes.

  25. Quote Originally Posted by kingk0ng View Post
    Read the ****ing study, dumbass. The incline press applied more pressure to the shoulders than it did the pec, the flat bench worked the compromise of both heads better.

    And what does Obama have to do with anything? You are bringing him up in bodybuilding posts.
    King Wrong,

    How dare you say Incline is a useless exercise, your just pissed cause you cant do it
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